The Africana Collections of the Library of Congress include materials
produced over the centuries by peoples living in sub-Saharan Africa
and by others inspired by the continent. Encompassing the area
from the Cape Verde Islands in the west to the Indian Ocean islands
in the east and from the Sahel in the north to the Cape of Good
Hope in the south, this geographic region of fifty countries spanning
several climatic zones, whose peoples speak hundreds of languages,
offers rich opportunities for diverse studies. The Library's Africana
collections reflect the complexities of African societies and
the efforts to understand and express this knowledge in many forms.
This guide highlights some of these holdings of materials created
in Africa or about it.
Those who have just begun their studies as well as experienced
scholars will find in the Africana collections pertinent books,
periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets, legal documents, photographs,
films, music, sound recordings, and cd-roms. The Library's collections
cover all subjects except technical agriculture and clinical medicine.
These materials are stored in the General Collections and in the
Library's various custodial divisions as their format dictates.
Reference assistance in locating and using them is available from
the African Section. Established in 1960 with support from the
Carnegie Corporation of New York, the African Section is the focal
point of the Library's collection development, reference, and
bibliographic activities for sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to
fulfilling its mandate to provide reference services for Congress,
the American people, and the international community, the African
Section maintains liaisons with other institutions in the United
States and abroad. Each African Section professional staff member
has reference and acquisitions responsibilities for a particular
linguistic or geographic region and has developed expert knowledge
of the collections for his or her area. In conjunction with other
Library units, the section develops the collections and compiles
bibliographic guides to bring Africana materials to the attention
of librarians and scholars.
The African Section has prepared numerous studies for publication,
ranging from general and topical guides on sub-Saharan Africa
to bibliographies of official publications of a country or region,
some of which are cited in "Selected Library of Congress Publications
on Africa." The purpose of each is to open up the collections,
to make them more accessible, and to increase the number of people
who may benefit from exploring these Africana treasures.
Joanne M. Zellers
Area Specialist for Africa, African Section